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How should I describe Metafilter as an activity?
May 25, 2014 1:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to be filling out an application that asks for my extracurricular activities, and during a conversation with an advisor, in which I mentioned my involvement in Metafilter, I was encouraged to include my participation here in my list (particularly because of the IRL aspects of it: monthly board game meetups at my home, arranging meetups when I travel to new places, participation in Secret Quonsar swap, etc.). I'm not sure yet if I do want to include MeFi on that list, but I'd like an idea of how to describe it for this purpose to people who probably have no idea what Metafilter is. How would you describe MeFi in this context?

Basically, my advisor said, "This is something you've been involved with consistently for over five years, and it has brought you into contact with many people outside your community and your age group." He thinks it helps show that I'm a well rounded person, and will help me stand out from other applicants.

On the application, in addition to describing the activity, I must categorize it. Which do you think MeFi best fits: Extracurricular Activity, Hobbies, or Other?
posted by ocherdraco to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Would it be helpful to remember how the NYT attempted to explain it, and see what resonates and what doesn't?
posted by ambrosia at 2:05 PM on May 25

Social meetup group? If you're mostly talking about physical meetups and things like mixtape swaps, that would make more sense than calling it a social media thing.

Likewise, if you make a lot of well constructed FPP, the old standby "community blog" would work.

Hobby sounds more apt than the others.
posted by Sara C. at 2:13 PM on May 25

I would call Metafilter an "online community".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:59 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]

Actively contributing member of MetaFilter, an international community sharing and discussing a broad variety of topics online as well as in scheduled meetings.
posted by beagle at 3:00 PM on May 25 [12 favorites]

Depending on how academic you want to get, you might want to memail iamkimiam - she's a sociolinguist (I think?) working on her dissertation about Metafilter. I'm sure she could help you craft an impressive description of our community.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 3:11 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

I like how beagle phrased it, but I would make sure to add the word "social" somewhere. I would also mention AskMe and how you are a contributor there offering your assistance to other members.

I would also consider this Other. Hobby seems to undervalue your participation here; to me a hobby is something I do in my spare time. Mefi and your involvement here goes much deeper than that. Extracurricular Activity makes it seem like you only participate during an Activity like a club meeting, event, or fundraiser. Again, that doesn't seem to fit, IMHO, so yeah, Other.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:17 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]

It's a community weblog. Says so right on the tin. I think "blog" is a totally mainstream term at this point. I think it's better to leave it at that as far as describing Metafilter goes, but then go into detail about the specific activities you've undertaken (let's face it, 99.9999% of the members here are not organizing monthly meetups).
posted by telegraph at 3:17 PM on May 25

Maybe I am reading your question wrong, but I don't think you have to explain Metafilter in the sense that you would not need to explain D&D if you were a roleplayer. They want to know what you do - so I'd say you are an "organizer of monthly board game nights for the members of Metafilter". The other things, like meetups at your vacation destinations or Quonsar are nice, but you know, not something that builds your skills. If you want to include it I'd say something like "Involved in hospitality exchange with Metafilter members - biannual since 2007" Then add one sentence about Metafilter being a general interest online community (or the wording you like).

Re: category: I would put it down as Other - because you are building and strengthening leadership/organizational skills, providing a service to others by hosting at your place etc.
Good luck!
posted by travelwithcats at 3:24 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]

Yeah, one advantage of not explaining what Metafilter is would be that it might prompt a question at an interview, so you could talk about the great stuff you do here. But, still, I would put in a minimal description, enough to pique interest, not enough to totally explain it. Revising my previous:

Actively contributing member of MetaFilter, an international blogging community and social network.
posted by beagle at 3:43 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

The selection committee needs to know what "actively contributing member" means. Usually if an applicant says they are volunteering at the soup kitchen or at the humane society, the committee members have an instant understanding of activities/skills from the context. Because everybody can picture what kind of tasks would be normal in such places. But you can't expect them to have the same level of understanding of what Metafilter is compared to the brick-and-mortar examples I just listed. Besides, your involvement goes deeper than online - and social network and blogging community will be understood as online.
You need to showcase the skills you gained by participating, Metafilter is just the setting.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:01 PM on May 25

I'd second beagle's suggestion, "an international blogging community and social network." If you like, you could also add minimal comments framed around what you've done - constructed multi-link posts for community discussion, organized member meetings, whatever. (I think there's generic resumé advice out there that says to emphasize active verbs - that kind of thing.)

Also, a brief note of encouragement - don't discount the possibility that the person who reads your application is a Mefite themselves.

Good luck!
posted by amy lecteur at 4:08 PM on May 25

Don't forget your work within the MeFi group at HealthMonth, as well as organising and participating in the MetaQuilter groups. You've done a LOT. I almost think you could get several items out of MeFi. The quilt group definitely qualifies as a hobby, I'd say.
posted by web-goddess at 4:20 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all these suggestions, everyone!
posted by ocherdraco at 4:28 PM on May 25

I think it depends on what you are applying for and what you are trying to tell them about yourself.

When I was applying for a job after being a homemaker for a jillion years, I put down (something like) that I had been "Director of Community Life" for The Tag Project, a voluntary health and welfare organization. I don't recall the particulars of exactly what I said but the point is The Tag Project is a small website and a few email lists that I had been seriously involved with (including attending a conference, with some assistance from people at/through The Tag Project to make that happen) and I had almost no paid work experience. So I was trying to convey "I have done serious volunteer work, comparable to having a part-time professional job, that took, you know, a few smarts." I was trying to convey that I had not just been a homemaker for two decades but had gone to school and made things happen, albeit not for pay.

How you describe both your activities and what MetaFilter is depends a great deal on what you want these people to understand about you. All you say here is that you are filling out an application. I assume that means "Job application" but maybe not (I can imagine it being something else -- I also applied to an internship program with the national laboratories, so ...). Anyway, I was trying to convey that I had some kind of work experience, albeit unpaid, where people thought highly of me and blah blah blah and PLEASE HIRE ME for this smarty-pants position, thank you. (And I did eventually get a job.)

So it might help if you indicated what you are applying for and what you are trying to communicate about yourself to them in considering the possibility of mentioning MetaFilter and your involvement. Because it isn't readily clear to me what the answer to either of those is from the way your question is framed.
posted by Michele in California at 4:29 PM on May 25

I have omitted the type of application intentionally. I am looking for general answers to this question; if tailoring needs to be done to make a description appropriate for my specific application, I will do it myself.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:31 PM on May 25

Oh man, I hate to say this, but unless you have some sort of official title here, I don't think this is a good idea. If you were applying to work with me and I found out you were a mefite I would think that was cool. But I just don't think there is any way to explain it credibly to a person who does not already know what Metafilter is. Sorry. And FWIW there is a school of thought that thinks hobbies don't belong on resumes anyway.
posted by yarly at 5:25 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]

Ok I just checked your profile and made an educated guess about what you are applying for. I think you should emphasize your role in Health Month and frame it in relation to what Health Month does rather than Mefi.
posted by yarly at 5:30 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]

I would definitely characterize MeFi as more of an international web community in the mold of Toastmasters or somesuch, and strongly emphasize the "extracurricular" and other IRL stuff you do here. Describing it as a blog or social network might be simpler, but it would also summon thoughts of Facebook and Twitter and other commonplace, low-effort websites. Anybody can comment on a blog, but organizing meetups and participating in swaps requires more involvement and dedication.

Also consider whether this organization might ask to know your username, and how you would respond to that. Not that you aren't an upstanding citizen around here, but you never know when some random comment out of context might come back to bite you.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:33 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

In regards to your first comment, yarly, I am explicitly being asked to list my activities (potentially including hobbies) on this application. They want to get a sense of who I am as a person, not just the specific things I have done to prepare for the program I'm applying for. Extracurricular Activity, Hobbies, and Other are three available descriptions on a drop-down menu on the application (the other available descriptions on the drop-down menu definitely don't apply to my MeFi-related activity), and listing of these kinds of activities is encouraged.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:59 PM on May 25

When I described my website moderator job on the very same application--different website, though--I just explained what it was. Try not to overthink this. "Organized monthly social events for members of Metafilter, an online community that discusses X, Y, and Z, among many other bookish topics."

Also, pace advisor, I would group this together with other Hobbies in a single Hobbies entry. WADR, I think a separate Metafilter entry would be way overkill.

I would not mention Health Month at all.
posted by 8603 at 8:04 PM on May 25

Adding so as not to misuse the edit window. Considering that your real name is right on your profile page, as your gmail address, I would (a) take that down now and (b) not mention any name-linked recreational website whatsoever on the application mentioned. No one is going to look you up...but why open that can of worms?

I mentioned metafilter during an icebreaker activity as part of this very process...but not in writing and not in a name-linked way. I was successful. But why borrow trouble?
posted by 8603 at 8:08 PM on May 25

My name and this username have been linked on the internet since I was 12 or so. That horse has been out of the barn for over a decade.

Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I'm going to mull it over and decide what to do. I'm leaning toward describing particular activities without mentioning the name of the site, if I include them at all.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:17 PM on May 25

Organising experience is a useful cross-skill, and indicates someone who willingly picks up responsibility and slack when they don't have to, they likely don't care at all what particular niche social group or hobby it relates to.

Has been organising monthly meetups for a social group in x town, for x years, is basically what I put in the 'Interests' section of my CV, when I was actually talking about a neopagan meetup group. It was noted in interviews, without people particularly caring what it was relating to.
posted by Elysum at 9:52 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

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